Brighton Fringe 2016
A spirited debut show from Cuckoo – Gaulier-trained actors, Marga Villalonga and Ross Spaine – which tells the tale of Michael and Maria, an elderly couple, who receive news that one has a terminal illness. The physical comedy tells the tale of how the unlikely couple get through a list of unconventional to-dos before they say their last good-byes.
Marga Villalonga and Ross Spaine gave a skilled and charming performance from beginning to end. Their chemistry as performers was evident from the moment they walked on stage, and introduced us to the main characters, Michael and Maria. The sheer delight that they showed to be on stage, performing together, was contagious.
Both actors showed great skill as clowns, thoroughly embodying the physicality of their characters – the shakes, old man tongue, wide hips clad in big knickers and creaky limbs – and creating a whole world of imaginary props with great dexterity. They also engaged beautifully with the audience, drawing us close to their characters and establishing a really touching intimacy. This story is all about love, loss, and even more love, and as the play drew to a close, most of the spectators, including me, were moved to tears.
Although it was sometimes a bit difficult to hear all the dialogue, overall, that didn’t affect the enjoyability of the performance – a mark of the strength of the actors’ clowning skills. Having said that, slightly slower delivery by both actors would probably improve the performance.
The story was well-structured and well-paced, gathering momentum after the news of Maria’s impending demise, and romping towards a brilliant finale. The play was well directed, showcasing both the story and the actors’ talent with minimalist staging and lighting. Scene changes were marked by short musical interludes, which set the emotional tone for what was to come next. Costumes and simple props supported the clowning, rooting the scene in a specific time and place and, at some points, even taking us on a journey through time and space.
Save me a balloon was full of joie de vivre, an almost constant surprise and a real pleasure to watch. I look forward to seeing Villalonga and Spaine get into their stride as performers. This is their first show together and I have a feeling the two of them have a whole lot more to give. The show on Saturday 21 May is already sold out, so get your tickets for Sunday 22 May now.
Here’s an interview that I did with Marga Villalonga and Ross Spaine directly after their performance (I could do with some slower delivery too):